Joe Biden surely had the blues on Wednesday, as the near-inevitable officially came to pass: The AP, followed by all the other outlets, called the House of Representatives for the Republican Party. And so, the latest era of divided government commences.
Only one race was called yesterday, but it was the one the Republicans needed: Rep. Mike Garcia (R) defeated Christy Smith in CA-27. There was little chance that Smith would topple the incumbent; he's been up by nearly 10 points ever since results began to be reported. Eventually, those slowpokes in California finally got to the point that 75% of the votes in the race were reported. At that point, there's no hope of overcoming a 9-10 point gap, and so Garcia was decreed the winner.
The Republican majority is still slated to be very small—probably four or five seats. We will point out one last time that the new Republican Speaker could decide that dealing with the 40 or so MAGA nutcases is just not worth it, and is not the path to future electoral success, and that it might be better to work with the Democratic Senate and the White House on things both parties can agree on. For example, everyone would like something to be done about opioids. Everyone would like to improve the country's infrastructure. Everyone would like rural broadband. There's room for a meeting of the minds here.
But that's not what is going to happen, of course. The new Speaker, whether it ends up being House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) or someone else, is going to become a bull in a china shop. They will use every tool at their disposal to bring the government to a grinding halt, and to give Joe Biden in particular the Hillary Clinton treatment. That is to say, by constantly investigating the President, and revealing the "dirt" they come up with (even if that dirt is trivial, or not really related to Biden, or invented out of whole cloth), they hope to create the impression that he is hopelessly corrupt and simply cannot be reelected in 2024.
Maybe it will work, although we doubt it. The campaign against Clinton was waged over more than two decades, beginning with Newt Gingrich when she was First Lady. The campaign against Biden won't have that kind of siege-like length. On top of that, Clinton is a woman, and part of the vitriol directed at her was barely veiled sexism. Biden will not be subject to that dynamic. And perhaps most importantly, the Republicans tried to hang a "corrupt" label on Biden in 2020, and he still won the election. Why would they have more success in 2024? And that's assuming he runs, by the way. Biden could decide to stand down after one term, which would mean the Republicans would have spent 2 years tearing down the wrong person.
One other note. Now that control of the House has been decided, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is ready to announce her future plans. She is planning to make an announcement today. So, by this time tomorrow, she could be headed to retirement, or she could be prepping to re-enter the fray. If it's the former, Joe Biden will be disappointed to lose one of his most important and skilled allies on The Hill. (Z)